Mr S.Lodge

Goal 1
Pollet 6 mins
Goal 2
Bazely 18 mins
Goal 3
Branch 25 mins

Wolverhamton Wanderers
Beasant     Oakes
Louis-Jean   Muscat
Scimeca   Bazely
Vaughan   Curle
Rogers   Emblen
Quashie   Akinbiyi
Prutton   Sinton
Johnson     Naylor
Bart-Williams     Sedgley
Lester   Branch
Harewood   Pollet
Substitutes     Substitutes
Crossley     Simpson
Gray     Robinson
Freedman     Corica
Dawson   Taylor
Merino     Petterson

© Nottingham Forest 2000

David Prutton Marlon Harewood
Tony Vaughan sent off Akinbiyi head butts Tony Vaughan

Nottingham Forest boss David Platt plans to appeal against the sending-off of Tony Vaughan in todayıs 3-0 defeat by Wolves. On-loan defender Vaughan was sent off ­along with Wolves striker Ade Akinbiyi - in the opening five minutes of a stormy encounter at Molineux.
Platt did not have a clear view of the incident but was later told by the referee that a linesman had seen Vaughan push the Wolves man in the face. Platt accepted the officials' verdict ­until watching the incident on video on the coach home from the game. He told us: "Having now seen the incident Tony Vaughan did nothing to even warrant a yellow card ­let alone a red. "We will appeal against the decision and ask the referee to review his decision."
Platt, who also saw David Prutton get his marching orders later in the first half, added: "The referee told me that one of his linesmen had seen Vaughan push Akinbiyi in the face. "If that had been the case then we would not have had any complaints but Tony did nothing of the sort."

With Bridport Red having to make alterations to his house before he sells it, I made the journey to Molyneux with our guest reporter Pod, it was a ground I haven't been to since the the late 70's, and it most impressive to say the least.No Bovril today but chicken, or maybe mushroom, or maybe vegetable soup. Any way as David Platt said in the press conference afterwards, we witnessed the most sureal game ever.

Report by Pod

Today's report is brought to you by a vegetarian, and consequently there will be no mentions of Bovril, apart from that one. The facts, which you are no doubt already aware of, are that this was a match which Nottingham Forest lost 3-0 and in which three players were sent off in a somewhat tempestuous first half. I am aware that is the custom that due to the deadlines demanded by the press, it is not unusual for match reports to be largely written during the first half and to pay scant regard to the latter stages of the game. Had I written this report immediately after the events of the first 45 minutes it would have looked something like "@#@[email protected][email protected][email protected]~~'##''#''#''……[email protected]@@@'~###", but I didn't and what is below is written after several hours calming down. We probably had all had keen expectations before this match; both teams had entered runs of good form, Forest had a chance of continuing with a settled team and the chances were that this would be a more competitive game than many pundits may have expected. I, and perhaps many others, would have hoped for a draw and an encouraging performance and I was expecting to see a good game of football. My expectations were not met in terms of the quality of the game and it also would be possible to assert that much of what I saw bore little resemblance to football.

The crowd of 24,444 observed the minutes silence for Sir Stanley Matthews with the utmost respect and the game kicked off in bright blustery conditions on a rather "traditional looking" muddy and sporadically bare pitch. Having paid little attention to the announcement of the teams, beyond noticing that Alan Rogers was read out as Alan Jones, [perhaps in sympathy with the announcer at this weekend's rugby match involving Bala, which was reputed widely to feature a team comprised solely of Joneses] it came as a bit of a shock to see that Jon Olav Hjelde had not made the starting line up and Ricky Scimeca was consequently back in the team after his absence through injury.

Both teams lined up in a 4-4-2 formation and the opening minutes saw a pair of corners for Forest, a few dangerous moments when a long ball over the defence almost caught Scimeca out of position. On a subsequent Wolves attack the ball broke to Akinbiyi on Forest's left flank and a free kick was awarded level with the edge of the penalty area about 2 yards in from the touch line. Before the free kick could be taken…well, that is where the fun began. Not having had the good fortune to be born with perfect observation and equally perfect recall I must admit that there may have been some argy bargy before my attention was drawn to Akinbiyi and Vaughan tangling on the edge of the 6 yard area. However, I am prepared to say that I saw as much of the incident if not more than the linesman on whose instructions Vaughan was sent off. The events as I saw them; Akinbiyi swung for Vaughan, "brilliant" I thought, he has to go off for that and looked over at the linesman who appeared entirely oblivious to the incident and was not, as I had expected, waving his flag frantically to attract the attention of the referee.

Both players seemed a bit surprised that the whistle had not been blown and Akinbiyi took another pop at Vaughan who definitely raised his arms but in a defensive fashion then, as by this time the referee and linesman had woken up and were running towards what was now a bit of a scrap, Vaughan had taken the professional route and gone to the floor clutching his face and I waited to see Akinbiyi sent off and Vaughan… well, not sent off. Unfortunately the referee and linesman, in their prolonged conference whilst Vaughan was receiving treatment, conjured up a version of events which demanded that both players be sent off. Akinbiyi, was shown the red card first and refused to leave the pitch, the delay to the actual dismissals because of the treatment to Vaughan meant that tempers were generally greatly aroused. After several minutes of struggles between Akinbiyi and his own team mates, Vaughan was also sent off and proceeded to the tunnel at a considerably more brisk pace. The Forest players reacted with conspicuous fury to the dismissal of Vaughan and surrounded referee and linesman who were by now trying to restart the game. The barely remembered free kick was taken before Forest had regained their professionalism and Wolves scored, the ball finding a huge gap at the far post. I wrote a swear word in my notebook.

The fact that our player who had been sent off, Vaughan, was a central defender may provide some mitigation for the lack of organisation at this free kick, but probably not quite enough. Bart-Williams withdrew from midfield to play alongside Scimeca in the centre of defence and we changed to playing with three at the back. The next few minutes were quite even, the same linesman who had advised the referee to send Vaughan off, missed a pretty obvious offside and as a result Emblen won a corner off Scimeca from which they fortunately failed to score. During this period we were competing well in midfield and defending well but Marlon and Jack Lester were producing little in the final third of the field. With approximately 20 minutes played a brilliant exchange of passes, between Sedgely and Bazeley, sent Rogers the wrong way and gave Bazeley enough room to fire a fantastic shot inside the far post with Beasant watching blamelessly from the other side of his goal. Shortly afterwards, Quashie was substituted to allow Dawson to come on and consequently permit Bart-Williams to return to midfield. Prutton was booked for a late challenge but one which I wrote at the time had no malicious intent and he was unlucky to have been so severely punished for. It was however just in front of the Wolves dug-out and the hyperbolic reaction of the coaches and subs may have precipitated the booking. What had followed the double sending off had been fairly ferocious stuff from both teams, tackles were flying in and tempers were obviously pretty frayed on both sides.

Playing against the likes of Keith Curle and Kevin Muscat this could be said to be a normal state of affairs. Bart-Williams was tackled violently by a miscellaneous Wolves hacker, the ball broke loose closer to the half way line and Mathieu Louis-Jean challenged rather vigorously for the ball, the referee on assessing the reaction of the adjacent Wolves bench, signalled that he was playing the advantage and made it clear that he was going to be booking Louis-Jean. Bodies were strewn all over the pitch and as the ball came to Beasant he attempted to put it into touch so that the afflicted could receive treatment. Unfortunately his attempt was a little half-hearted and was intercepted by Michael Branch, who took the ball past a furiously remonstrating Beasant and stuck it in the net. All hell broke loose, I wrote another swear word in my notebook and Platty had words with the Wolves staff. Beasant was apoplectic and was chasing around the pitch haranguing everyone, it is quite possible that players got booked but the situation was utterly chaotic and it is difficult to do justice to the absolute confusion which exploded in front of us.

The game restarted, Marlon had a good individual attempt forcing a save from Oakes, having to dribble the ball around the prostrate body of Scimeca who was injured on the edge of the Wolves penalty area. Wolves claimed to have put the ball into touch to allow for treatment to Scimeca and from the resultant throw Rogers threw the ball into the penalty area in an unsporting echo of Branch's actions. David Platt was involved in heated negotiations about Branch's breach of etiquette and a police officer with a senior looking hat, made his way into the Forest dug out to presumably tell him to calm down. With minutes remaining to the half-time break Marlon, tracking back and harrying Emblen, got a little carried away and head butted the Wolves man, but was surprisingly not sent off. Mathieu Louis-Jean was substituted with an injury sustained when he was hacked down some five minutes before and Andy Gray replaced him. Five minutes extra time were signalled and as Wolves broke down their left-hand side and approached the penalty area Prutton once again tackled late and was sent off. Another swear word appeared in my notebook.

The comments of many, non-Forest fans, to whom I was exposed during half-time, confirmed that I was not the only one who felt that Steven Lodge had displayed more than ample amounts of ineptitude and spinelessness in the face of a hostile Wolves crowd baying unsurprisingly like wolves, at every hint of a foul by a Forest player. The tackles for which Prutton was booked, for example, were no worse than many by Wolves players which went unpunished and which were considerably more vicious in intent.

The second half started, but football is not a game that should be played by nine men and in reality it was a complete non-event and a farce. We changed, and had no option to do otherwise, to playing with three at the back with Bart-Williams moving back into defence again and Gray and Rogers playing as wingbacks. Wolves passed the ball neatly in the space they had because of the disparity in numbers, they looked to be going through the motions every bit as much a Forest were but impressed me occasionally with their play on the edge of Forest's, normally packed, penalty area. I could detail the football in the second half more precisely than that in the first but only because it was so pedestrian and boring that there was ample time to compile rather exhaustive notes. In summary, Merino came on for Marlon, and the game finished 3-0 after some abortive attempts by Wolves fans to precipitate a 'Mexican wave' and many people left before the end.

If I were to be challenged to find the requisite ingredients to make this week's half-full glass then in reality it would not be too much of a struggle. Bart-Williams had an exceptional second half, he almost single handedly repulsed the frequent Wolves attacks and the meagre portion of attacking play we saw from Forest came from him also. He had retained the captain's armband, in preference to Scimeca and justified this fully with his commanding display in the second half. In addition, the performance of Beasant in the second half was a credit to his professionalism. He had undoubtedly played the latter parts of the first half in his own red-mist and had had to endure an exceptionally hostile reception from the Wolves fans. In the second half he was a different man, he played calmly, and thankfully for us proficiently. In the dying minutes he made a string of exceptional saves which meant that we had at least drawn the second half and that the damage limitation exercise was accomplished. And apart from that… well, I was glad to hear the final whistle.

In the press conference after the match Platty confirmed that he had been asked by the police to attempt to calm the players in the second half because of fears about public order. He said that the defensive display in the second half was a bit similar to a training exercise where 4 men defend against 6 but that the game had turned into a debacle. He said that he has been in football for a long time and that the first half had been the most bizarre 45 minutes he could remember and that it had been surreal. He said it was unfortunate that Rogers had reciprocated the unsporting conduct of Branch, and that he accepted that it was likely that Branch had acted in ignorance of the precise situation. He said that John Ward and Colin Lee had said they would concede a goal so that no advantage would result from Branch's actions. But that this had not happened and that as the minutes ticked by he realised it would be less likely that it would do. Platty said that he had not fully seen the Vaughan - Akinbiyi incident and that he would wait until he had seen a video before commenting on that. Subsequently on watching a video once on the coach, he has stated his intention to appeal against Vaughan's sending off.

When it was pointed out that it was the third time this season that we had ended up with 9 men he said that he didn't think that we were a dirty side but that inexperience may have played a part. He commented specifically on Prutton saying that anyone familiar with Prutton would know that he was not a dirty player but that he was accumulating cards. He was asked if the referee had come into the Forest dressing room at half-time and he replied that he hadn't and that he perhaps had wanted to have 15 minutes rest. John Ward and Colin Lee confirmed that they had indicated to Platt that they would deliberately concede a goal, they had conferred with the fourth official and had passed instructions on to Keith Curle but that it had not happened and that Steven Lodge had indicated that he was unwilling to stop the game to facilitate this.

I had gone to Molyneux hoping to see a good game and also hoping to see further evidence of the improvement in Forest. I saw neither. The events which occurred in the first half were not typical of any football match. Individually they were rare occurrences and the Branch goal was one of an infamous few such events. In isolation they would have provided enough controversy to ensure that the match was a heated affair. That both happened in the same 45 minutes of a football match was an unfortunate co-incidence and one that precipitated unusual scenes from players on both sides. The situation was exacerbated by poor refereeing from Steven Lodge and the game was completely out of control and the disciplinary interventions of the referee were not even handed enough to prevent even more tension entering the situation. It was an unusual afternoon and a poor excuse for a game of football.



Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.